Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review ???: The rest of the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris

So, I've been kind of off my game in blogging this month. Which is kind of unforgivable as I've had many, many days when I had time to write. So I know I've left a few out that I've read, and I promise to make that one of my new year's resolutions for 2010, to actually blog about EVERY book that I read. So to probably finish up my blogging for this year, I have chosen to write one big post about #'s 3-8 of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. Those include:

  • Club Dead

  • Dead to the World

  • Dead as a Doornail

  • Definitely Dead

  • Altogether Dead

  • From Dead to Worse

Club Dead was good as I believe it is when Alcide was introduced, and for awhile you think he could be a good new guy for Sookie as Bill has betrayed her for his maker. I also enjoyed Dead to the World because we got to see Eric as a good guy who could really love Sookie. However, I missed his "smart-ass" self when he'd lost his memory, and was somewhat glad that he got back to the old Eric.

Dead as a Doornail was actually kind of boring to me, and I didn't enjoy it that much. So I moved through it quickly to get on to the next book. Although it is where we met Quinn, the next guy we though might be good for Sookie.

Definitely Dead was okay, I liked the trip to New Orleans a lot. It was very interesting to read about it, especially as it was pre-hurricane Katrina. I liked the bit of subterfuge Sookie had to use to sneak the bracelet back to the queen at the party at the end. Altogether Dead, now that was a book with lots of twists and turns, and I also liked how the author used Hurricane Katrina as part of the story. There were some parts in this book that seemed to be a little confusing, but it was good anyway. I did feel though that it was a way of bringing another disaster to mind, 9/11, but that's okay.

Now, at this point I can't remember when we first learned Sookie had fairy blood, but in From Dead to Worse we meet Sookie's great grandfather, and learn her family tree is not quite what she'd thought. Again, there are TONS of things going on in this book, while I enjoyed it, at times it got a little busy for me. It seems Bill is trying to get back in with Sookie, and not sure what is up with Eric. As I was reading through all these books over the past couple weeks, I began to wonder if Eric was Sookie's "Edward," thinking of my favorite series, the Twilight books. But I don't know. In this book Sookie decides Quinn has too much baggage with his mom and sister to be good for her. Sam also starts to kind of come up again as a possibility for Sookie. The queen dies, which is sad, but the new king sounds interesting as well. And poor Sookie now has 2 roommates. As I was reading some of the books before these last 2, I was relating quite well to Sookie and how she enjoyed going back to her own house after all her adventures and just having peaceful alone time. I've lived alone so long, that I feel the same. Vacations with family, well, I enjoy them, but often by the end I'm sooooo ready to get home and have no one else around. Although being snowed in, that made me a bit stir crazy this last weekend. Even getting out shopping by myself would have been nice. Hopefully I can do that this week.

I will wait till the 9th book: Dead and Gone, comes out in paperback to buy it and read it. For now I'm on to other books, starting with Stephen King's latest: Under the Dome. Although I'm a bit afraid of the book, it is HUGE! But I started reading it this morning at breakfast.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review 53: How to Build a Dinosaur by Jack Horner

I first learned about Jack Horner when I was in college, then Central Missouri State University, now called University of Central Missouri. It was either my sophomore or junior year, I think the first time I took Invertebrate Paleontology. I say first time, because my first teacher was a horrible teacher. I had a C, he lost my final, which I felt like I'd done really well on, and told me I had a D. Since that was in my major, I had to re-take the class. I'm glad in a way that I did, because the my 2nd teacher was an awesome teacher and took me on my first "real" fossil expeditions. But I digress. It was about this time that the book Jurassic Park was a big hit, soon to be followed by the movie. My infatuation with dinosaurs was rediscovered. Around this time I asked for a book I'd heard about called "Digging Up Dinosaurs" by Dr. John Horner for a Christmas gift. Dr. John Horner is Jack Horner. I soon was to the point where I couldn't get enough nonfiction science books on dinosaurs and paleontology. My family of course noticed this, and the awesome college graduation gift I received was based on an article my step-dad found in the Kansas City Star my Senior year of college. In Montana, Jack Horner had a camp funded through the Montana State University where anyone who came up with the money and got signed up in time could come and work on an actual dinosaur dig. I got to go spend a week doing this the summer after I graduated. I still remember it all vividly, sleeping in a teepee. The pitch blackness at night, except for how bright the moon in the sky was. Being in a desert, yet wearing a sweatshirt on a July morning when we first went out to dig.

The money people pay for this, is one way they continue to fund their digs. And if I could, I would pay to go every year. I loved every minute of it. Except maybe for the bathrooms, and vegetarian dinner night. :-) A year ago, a new book came out called "How to Build a Dinosaur" by Jack Horner again. I asked for it last year as either a birthday or Christmas gift, but just wasn't quite in the mood to pick it up and read. I've kind of been in a nonfiction slump other than a few weight loss memoirs last spring. A couple weeks ago 60 Minutes did a story on Jack Horner, and basically what this book is about, and I remembered that book sitting on my shelf. I was also waiting for the final book on my Mark Twain nominee list to be available to check out at the library, and so was looking for what to read. And so I picked this up, and was again drawn right back in to this world I wish I was a part of every day of my life. Dr. Horner wants to create a Chickenosaur. Birds have been declared the descendents of dinosaurs, and so using a chicken and changing some things in its embryological development is where Dr. Horner sees us going.

Obviously there is much more to the book than I've laid out here, but I'll leave it open for others to read and enjoy. I will leave you with a quote Dr. Horner includes in this book by George Carlin. I'm not always a Carlin fan, due to some of his political comments, but this one sums up my views on global warming, and other environmental issues, as well as bringing to light the attitude that scientists in the geology field, which I equate myself with, have towards all these same things.

"Way over 90 percent of all the species that have ever lived on this planet - ever lived - are gone. They're extinct. We didn't kill them all. They just disappeared. That's what nature does. They disappear these days at the reate of twenty-five a day. And I mean regardless of our behavior. Irrespective of how we act on this planet, twenty-five species that are here today will be gone tomorrow. Let them go gracefully. Leave nature alone." - George Carlin

I actually have a few more reviews to do, but in the sense that I'm getting tired of typing, I'll come back and fill them in another day.

Book Review 52: Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This is the 2nd book in the Missing Series. The first was Found which was on one of my reading lists. Margaret Peterson Haddix is a favorite author of mine, especially her Shadow Children series. This looks to be another great series, and I'm thinking she can probably do almost as many in this series as she did in that one. In this book, the main characters have been sent back in the past to try to fix the past where 2 of the orphans were pulled before they could be killed. The kids of course save the day, but it is interesting to learn about the past and mysterious killings of future kings. I will definitely recommend this series to kids at the bookstore as well as at school. I look forward to the 3rd book where they kids will go back in time to save another "orphan" and bring her back to her current family. I like how the book brings in the future with the time travel, and also relates back to the past, and the way current children live.

Book Review 51: Game Over by Adele Parks

So this chick lit book I began clear back in August before I got selected to read the Mark Twain and Truman nominees. I didn't pick it back up until I was waiting on my last Mark Twain nominee to be available. This was a good book to start with. The main character is a woman, who basically has a man's attitude about sex and relationships. In fact she makes some men cry. I like the way she was able to do this. I like to pretend that I was kinda similar in my approach to relationships back in college. However, in the end, it really kind of did a real turn around. She met this guy, who was opposed to the reality show she had created called "Sex with an Ex". He's a hot guy of course, so she decides to follow him and try to convince him to come on the show. As you would expect, or wouldn't based on her earlier behavior, but would based on being a reader of chick lit, she falls for him. Turns out she falls head over heels. One of her friends says one thing, and she gives him up. She gets backstabbed in something you totally see coming, by him in a way, and then of course, she wants him and goes after him. We don't really learn why she is a "man-izer" until towards the end of the book with this guy. I don't know. It was an okay book I guess, but I don't like how she did a complete 180 and changed so much all over a guy. And the fact that the ending was so predictable was also disappointing.

Okay, as things have been hectic, I've got a couple more posts to make today!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Book Review 50: Bringing the Boy Home by N.A. Nelson

Finally I am done with the Mark Twain nominees. This was an interesting change from the other books. The main character is Tirio, who is from an unknown tribe in the Amazon called the Takunami tribe. This is pretty much all fiction, the author says she made most of it up, only the fact that there are actually unknown tribes and that there are rituals that could be similar, and of course the actual wildlife is true. When Tirio was 6 years old his mother put him in a coffin in a raft and sent him down the river. He was discovered by a woman named Sara who took him back to America with her and raised him. He was abandoned by his tribe because he had some kind of handicap on one of his legs. The whole book is about him and another boy named Luka, from the same tribe. We learn about Luka's life and family as part of the tribe waiting for the ritual to become a man. It is not until the oldest son of the family passes this ritual that any children in the family can know who their father is. Luka has an older sister and a domineering mother who is doing everything to make sure her son passes. Back in the states, Tirio has been "cured" in a way by an orthotic, and at the age of 12, almost 13 is beginning to feel he needs to go back to the Amazon and pass the ritual. Fortunately Sara is actually taking Tirio back there on a trip at just the right time.

There's kind of a twist about the relationship between Luka and Tirio, a little different than what I was thinking it would be. But a good twist. I really liked this book. I hope this makes the list, I would definitely recommend it to any kids at the store or at school.

So glad to be done with the list, even though the books were all good ones. Now, on to adult books. Currently reading a nonfiction called "How to Build a Dinosaur" by Jack Horner. After that I will jump into the Sookie Stackhouse series again, or possibly read the new Stephen King before that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twilight series thoughts

As I'm waiting on the last book on my Mark Twain list to either show up in the library, where I'm 2nd on the list, or else I ordered it into the store I work at, I went ahead and dove back into New Moon in preparation for the movie release next week. Of course, once you begin, well, once I begin, I can't put them down, and am now all the way through to Breaking Dawn. As I read New Moon, I also began listening to the Twilight movie soundtrack in my car again. The song Supermassive Black Hole reminded me of probably my 2nd favorite part of the movie, the vampire baseball scene. It begas as such a fun scene, just kind of no worries, good music, enjoy the craziness. I began thinking that I can't imagine any scene in the New Moon movie fitting quite the same feeling. Don't get me wrong, I have never in my life been as excited about seeing a movie as I am about seeing New Moon. I love the book, and the previews look like they've done a hundred times better than Twilight. I haven't bought the soundtrack yet, waiting until I see the movie. The songs on it are probably not my "normal" type of music, but once I can "see" the scene in the movie that they're from, I'll love them for bringing those feelings to my mind.

Also, I'm totally Team Edward, that is who Bella belongs with. But I don't understand how anyone can hate Jacob. He makes me smile. I just love him to death. In fact, I really couldn't wait as I was re-reading New Moon until Jacob began being a big part of Bella's life. And as for the actors playing Edward and Jacob, while I think Rob Pattinson is much cuter in the face, Taylor Lautner looks hot without his shirt!!! Can't wait for that.

So right now I'm on pins and needles just waiting for next week. There's a good possibility I may get to see New Moon on Tuesday night with my friend Kim and her mom, because her mom works for AMC and they have these special previews. Plus, I already have tickets for the midnight show a week from tonight. So by this time next week, I could be just about ready to see it for the 2nd time. I also have a friend I'll be going with the weekend of Thanksgiving because she doesn't want her friends to know because they'll make fun of her, but she wants to go. So I of course agreed. I'd really like to do my once a week showing of the movie again, but now sure I can afford it this year. So broke right now, not even funny. I'm just really looking forward to tax return time. Guessing due to money issues I may not attend the MASL conference, can't really afford it since I have to pay for it all myself. That's kind of sad since I'm reading for both Mark Twain and Truman lists, but what can I do? It doesn't seem like it's been a very good investment for my money seeing as how I'm still not a librarian and don't seem to be any closer to getting that type of job. Oh well.

Hopefully in the next week I'll be back giving my final review for the Mark Twain books.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review 49: thank you, Lucky Stars by Beverly Donofrio

This was a pretty good book about girls and their friendships. I have to admit at first the whole, Lucky Stars, being capitalized and said constantly was kind of annoying. But I got used to it. I also at first had trouble because the girls were so young to me, 5th grade, and totally behaved that way. However, since the Mark Twain books are for 4th-6th graders, a book about 5th grade girls is about right. It starts at the beginning of the school year when Ally realizes her best friend Betsy has left her for a girl that they both used to hate. Betsy has gone on to be a part of the more mature girls, while Ally is still very imaginative and young. A new girl moves to the school named Tina, and she's weird. She keeps trying to be friends with Ally, and Ally at first doesn't want to be seen with her. But soon she learns what a good friend Tina can be. The big talent show is what Ally had always been so excited to perform in with Betsy. And it doesn't look at first like that's going to happen. But soon another chance comes up for Ally to start hanging with Betsy and the cool girls. Ally must decide if she'll keep Tina as a friend, or line up with the clique and become one of them.

The sadness and loneliness Ally feels is written so well, that I can feel it, and the book got me emotionally. So, all in all, a pretty good book.

Only one book left on the Mark Twain list for me to read. Unfortunately I am still on a waiting list at the Mid-Continent Public library for it. It is called Bringing Home the Boy by Nelson. So, while I had hoped to be completely done with the list by the middle of this week, it may be a few more days. So I picked up New Moon and decided to go ahead and get to reading the series again to get ready for the movie in 3 weeks.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Book Review 48: Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park

This was a major tear jerker. And to think the fact that it was a sports themed book made me not want to read it. And again, as I commented on another book from the Truman list I believe, some of the "accents" were a bit annoying. This is about a family from Brooklyn. The main character is Maggie, called Maggie-o by her dad after Joe DiMaggio. The family, and whole neighborhood are really big into baseball, specifically the Dodgers. This is right at the time of the Korean War. Maggie's dad is a fireman, or was until he was injured in a fire. So Maggie hangs out at the fire station a lot. She meets a new guy there named Jim. He teaches her how to keep score of the games, so she always can tell people what has happened and not forget. She gets really into it and starts keeping notebooks for the whole seasons. She begins to like the Giants because of Jim, especially Willie Mays. Even though she still is loyal to the Dodgers. Jim gets sent off to Korea. At first Maggie writes him all the time and he writes her back. He tells her about the boat ride over, and a young Korean boy who is the tent boy. He even sends her a picture of them. Then, all of a sudden, the letters stop. Maggie doesn't know what has happened. And no one tells her until after a while, it finally comes out that Jim was at a terrible battle and while not hurt, when he went to lay down and rest, he did, but then just stayed there, not moving, not talking. He came home the same way. Maggie comes up with a scheme to try to get him talking again by saving up her confirmation money and allowance long enough to take her whole family and Jim and his sister and her family to see the Dodgers play the Giants. but Jim and his sister don't show up the whole game.

Maggie's prayers for Jim, the teams, all of it is heartwrenching. How she feels when some of her prayers seem to work, but others don't is the way I know I feel all the time. Her feelings of helplessness and frustration I feel a lot, and so I was in tears through a lot of the last half of the book.

It's a great book. So glad I read it.

On to the 2nd to last book, Thank you, Lucky Stars by Beverly Donofrio. Only one more after that, but still waiting on it from the library.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Review 47: Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

Peg Kehret's books seem to always be on the Mark Twain list like every year, kind of like Mary Downing Hahn's books do. While they've not been my favorites in the past, and I alwasy feel they tend to have some similar trends in them, I decided this was a really good book. The main character is Amy, and she is babysitting for a girl named Kendra, who gets kidnapped, and the kidnappers decide they have to take Amy too because she sees them. The kidnappers intend to send a DVD every day for a week and then ask for ransom. Amy is a writer, (I'm enjoying all the books this year with kids who like to write in them), and so she uses what time she has to try to figure out how to put clues into the recordings so that hopefully when her family and friends see them they might figure it out and come help them. I really like how it gives all the ways Amy thinks to do this, as well as all her thoughts about making sure she keeps herself and Kendra safe as long as she can. I feel this could be helpful to kids that may end up in a similar situation. Another thing I really liked was how it showed people who had chances to really help, and didn't. In these cases, it was because they figured no one would believe them, or that someone else would do something because they were away from what was going on. But it really stood out because of a news story I heard last night about a girl who was raped right outside her high school while a bunch of people watched and took pictures on their phone, but no one did anything. Not to mention they went back to a woman who was murdered years ago and people just closed their windows and did nothing even hearing what was going on. The one person in the story who does something at the end, you really have respect for. And I liked this a lot.

Next on to my last sports book called Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park. I believe I've read one or two of this author's books and enjoyed them in the past. I only have 3 more books, although one I'm still waiting to get to re-check out from the library, and then I'll be done!

I want to do NaNoWriMo this year, but the more I read, the more I figure it is a waste of my time. I really don't know how to think of all the details and stuff these authors do, so I think that means I probably am not meant to be a writer. We'll see. I have an idea for a new novella, or I could go back and work on my one from 3 years ago.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Review 46: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

This is also part of what I assume to be a newer series, this one called Suddenly Supernatural. My assumption is that the series will follow a 7th grader named Kat as she comes to realize she can see and talk to ghosts just like her mother. And her friend named Jac, who is a cellist, who doesn't play anymore. In this book Kat has just started seeing ghosts, but doesn't want to tell her mother because she's not sure she wants this "gift". She doesn't have many friends, has only in the past year moved to this town. A new girl named Jac moves in, and she and Kat become friends. Jac doesn't play the cello anymore because she froze up at a huge concert. Her mother moved her there because they have a teacher who is supposed to be good with helping kids in her situation.

I enjoy ghosts and the like, so maybe that's part of what I enjoyed. And I like the show The Ghost Whisperer, where all ghosts aren't bad. And this is kind of a kids' version of that in a way. I think kids would like what Kat goes through with the popular crowd finding out about her gift as well as other issues like homework for a 7th grade girl.

Next book I'll start tonight is Stolen Children by Peg Kehret.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Review 45: Safe at Home by Mike Lupica

This is one in a sports series called Mike Lupica's Comeback Kids. I read "The Big Field" by Mike Lupica for the Truman list just a short time ago. My main criticism of that was how technical the baseball talk was. In this one, it wasn't quite as technical, and maybe that's why it was a quicker read for me. A pretty good story, but kind of short. The main character is Nick, who is adopted. We learn about his past, how he came to be adopted, and how he came to love baseball and comic books. Nick is a really good catcher, getting ready for the JV season at his middle/junior high school. Before the season starts the catcher on the varsity team hurts his wrist and the coach comes and recruits Nick to fill in until his wrist injury heals. However, all of Nick's talent seems to disappear in his nervousness at being part of the varsity team. Not to mention that he's been slacking on his school work, and now his parents are starting to get on his case and possibly ban him from summer baseball. Of course there's the big game at the end, this time with the school's biggest rival, and Nick must do his best to help his team win. He also must come to term with feeling like he doesn't fit in with his adoptive parents.

Next book is in the Suddenly Supernatural series by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel called School Spirit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review 44: Margret and Flynn by Kathleen Duey

This is part of the Hoofbeats series, which I think we had one of as a possibility for last year's Mark Twain, but didn't make it. It takes place in 1875. The main character is of course Margret, and she and her sister Libby are orphans. They are living with Mrs. Frederickson, an elderly widow who lives in a sod house in Littleton, Colorado. Margret and her sister don't stay in one place long. As soon as Libby sees things changing for the worse, or else if she sees Margret getting too attached to the family, she'll pack them up and leave in the middle of the night with no word to the people they've been with. Margret likes this latest place though. She gets to take care of the horses, and Mrs. Frederickson is really nice. A tornado comes and all of a sudden there's an extra horse, a very fancy looking horse. Margret names it Flynn, and after riding it, falls in love, and even gets to meet some neighbors when she goes to share their milk with neighbors who have chickens for them to take.

The story is about Margret finally wanting to settle, not sure how to convince her sister, and also wanting to keep Flynn, who she knows must belong to someone else. It all culminates in a race, that Margret wants to win to get the money to buy Flynn.

This story goes back to the stereotypical girl loves horses, horses are wonderful creatures. Not a bad thing, but still kind of nothing out of the order.

Next up is another Mike Lupica book. I know from the one I read for the Truman list that he is a good writer, but also very technical in his "baseball speak". So we'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review 43: The Truth About Horses, Friends, & My Life as a Coward by Sarah P. Gibson

Long title on this book. Cute book. I was wondering why in the world there would be two "horse" stories on the list. Yeah, I know girls love horses and most dream of having their own pony as they grow up, I did. But what I loved about this book is that it didn't make horses out to be wonderful, perfect creatures. The mom decides to get a horse for her daughters, and it's name is Really. They soon figure out that is short for Really Mean. It bites. Then they get another horse, this one is perfect to ride in the ring. But the minute they take it out, it ends up running and knocking the girls off by running under trees. They finally get a really huge horse, which ends up as not the smartest of the bunch, but the gentlest. Our main character is Sophie, so not only is she dealing with this crazy bunch of horses, but she also has 2 friends she likes, but at first the 2 don't get along with each other. And, Sophie is afraid to do anything with the horses unless she has to, or her friend kind of wants her to do it, so she doesn't want to seem like a chicken.

The whole story is just so funny, I think it is a good choice for the next year's nominee list.

Next on the list is Margret and Flynn by Kathleen Duey, another horse story.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review 42: Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe

As I said in my last blog, I'm not a huge fan of books from the animal point of view. But all in all, I overcame that and enjoyed this book.

At first, the dog, Waggit is left in the park by his owner, and is adopted by a "gang" of dogs, led by Tazar. He soon figures out that his owner isn't coming back, and settles in to a life in the "wild". I was a little unsure how I would like that, as the dogs living in the park think that life is better there than with an "upright" or human. After a long, hard winter, spring comes, and Waggit happens upon a woman who is eating lunch in the park every day, and she thinks he's cute so she always gives him food. One day he shows up and she's not there, and he gets caught by the "Ruzelas" or I would guess they are actually dog catchers. He goes to the pound, or the "great unknown". After a few days there, the woman comes and finds him and takes him home. It takes him a while to get used to it, and he feels a bit like he's betrayed his family in the park. But at the end he's able to get out and go let his family know that he's okay, that sometimes going to the "great unknown" isn't a bad thing.

I do know there is a sequel to this book because I've seen it at the store I work at, so I'll have to look into reading it some day when I've got some extra time.

The next book I started is one of the two horse books on the list. Again, the title sounded really dumb in my opinion, but it has been a pretty amusing book so far. It is called The Truth About Horses, Friends, and My Life as a Coward by Sarah Gibson.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review 41: The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Another book about a little girl who wants to be a writer. I wonder if this was just a theme by the people on the committee, or if there were just a lot of books along this theme published at the same time. I enjoyed that aspect of it. I wish I had my own Bronze pen to help me write my stories, as well as to make what I write come true. I'd be totally writing about me and David Cook meeting and him falling in love with me. :-)

Anyway, I love the dog, Beowulf, and it's a pretty good story. The main character is Audrey, she's living in the 70's I guess because it talks about her best friend not wanting to pretend anymore because she's more into being a hippie. Other than that part of the story, I enjoy most of the story. I could see kids enjoying it. I'm not sure how I'll rate it though.

Next book I started is Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe. Another dog story, only this one is told from the dog's point of view, and they are actually talking dogs. I'm not actually a fan of this type of story, I didn't enjoy Watership Down, but I guess Bunnicula was a favorite series of mine, and it was talking dogs and cats, so I'll give it a chance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book Review 40: Mary Ingalls On Her Own by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard

Reading Little House on the Prairie books takes me back to younger days. Not as young as you might think though. I didn't read the books when I was a little girl. To me, the tv show is what I think of. In high school, I remember being home during the summer with my brother and watching the show on tv every morning. My brother and I loved Nellie and all the town folk. And we made fun of Pa's idiosyncracies and Laura's brothers that showed up towards the end of the series. It was just a part of my summers with my brother. I think that we probably watched when I was younger, middle school even, because for some reason I remember when we'd play with my Barbies, we'd drive them out in their cars in front of the tv and pretend they were at the drive-in movies, and I seem to remember watching Little House on the Prairie one time. Now, I tried reading the books after I'd discovered the show, but the books are always just so simple. When you were reading at the age of 3, like I was, they were just too babyish for me. I'd like to go back now, now that I can appreciate them for what they are and that I know more of the whole "history" of Laura Ingalls Wilder. But that will wait till when I have some extra time. Whenever that happens.

This book is about Mary when she goes off to the college for the blind in Iowa. It's short, and sweet, and of course different from the tv show. At the end it goes into what they know is real for the book, and other details about Mary's life. I'm guessing I need to read some more historical books on this as what I saw on the tv show I know is not all reality. For instance it doesn't talk about Mary ever getting married, yet on the show she did. I figured they did change a lot of the story on the show, but didn't know that they changed that much. Oh well. Live and learn. It just intrigues me to read more.

Next book I'm starting today is The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Not sure if I've read any books by this author, I'm familiar with them because we have them at the store I work at. Some of the titles sound familiar, but can't remember for sure if I read them.

Oh yeah, only 10 more books to go! Then November, National Novel Writing Month, not to mention re-reading New Moon and the rest of the Twilight series to get ready for the new movie!! After which I intend to go through and read the whole rest of the Sookie Stackhouse series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review 39: The Magic Half by Annie Barrows

Cute little book. Miri is the main character, and she is the middle child between twin boys and twin girls. And she has always felt a little bit left out. Sure, it's cool to be part of a family with two sets of twins, but when all the fawning is over the twins, and not you, that gets old fast. The twins also have built in friends, Miri doesn't, in fact, her family has just moved away from her best friend. The old house they move into may have a mystery, buried treasure. When Miri gets in trouble and gets sent to her room. She finds a lens stuck to the wall for no apparent reason. When she looks through it, all of a sudden she's been taken back in time to the 1930's and meets a girl named Molly. Well, Molly's life isn't a good one, she's been orphaned and left with her grandmother and mean aunt and cousins. Her grandmother loves her, but is not in good health, and her aunt and cousins want her grandmother's money. Her cousin Horst is a violent boy, and Miri decides she must somehow rescue Molly and take her back to her own time. Turns out Horst is a thief, and the stories of buried treasure are pretty much true. All this leads to an interesting adventure, and a happy ending, which I kind of wondered if that is what would happen.

Next book I started tonight is "Mary Ingalls On Her Own" by Elizabeth Kimmel Willard. Which is taking me back to some old childhood friends. Can't wait to blog about it, probably tomorrow night is my guess.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review 38: The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum

Okay story, a girl who recently watched her mother freeze to death, and is now afraid to leave her house, has a dog come up to her cabin door one day. She lives with her father, I'm guessing up on a mountain or in a forest or something. I'm guessing this is supposed to be in the past, because she doesn't go to school because she can't walk there, and it sounds like they just live up in a cabin. So, the dog is limping, and not too sure about Dessa, but eventually she wins the dog over. There's a big deal with a bear, and the dad needing to hunt, and eventually Dessa is able to leave the cabin in order to try to save the dog. Ehh, interesting, but not great. Not much else to say.

Started the Magic Half by Annie Barrows today. It's okay so far.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Book Review 37: The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret by Tracy Barrett

Cute, short book. I love the main characters' names, Xena and Xander. I always thought if I ever had a boy, if he wasn't a "Junior" of his father, I'd want to name him Xander, of course I now like the name Cullen too. Both my names are from my favorite vampire series, Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Cullen from Twilight. Anyways, back to the book, Xena and Xander are direct descendents to the great Sherlock Holmes, and they have moved to London, where they meet some people who give them their ancestor's unsolved case book. And of course, they right away choose to solve one of those mysteries. It has to do with a painting that has been missing for 100 years, called "Girl in a Purple Hat".

It's a short, quick mystery, I think kids might like it. And again, as I said with Dodger and Me, it seems as if it will be a series, and you can get kids hooked into reading with series if they like the first one. I don't know that I believe this belongs as a nominee, but who knows what others will think.

For the next book I picked one of the dog books, Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum, there are like 2 or 3 on the list, so we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book Review 36: The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish by Claudia Mills

I really enjoyed this one. The main character is Amanda MacLeish, and her school does thematic units where all the classes are doing something about the theme, in this case it is the Civil War. There was a time when middle school teams were supposed to do this, and lately, we've gotten so far away from this that it saddens me that our students don't get to experience this as much any more. I think some elementary schools may still do this, but with all the emphasis on testing and meeting No Child Left Behind standards, it is sad that kids don't get as many of these kinds of experiences. Anyway, for Amanda's favorite class, English, each student is given a person from that time period and they must write diary entries for what that person sees and goes through during this time. Amanda loves this assignment as she loves to write, and from her diary entries, you can tell she loves it and is good at it. Her math class is more normal, fractions, and all that stuff, and Amanda is not good at math. The music class however is learning songs that have to do with the Civil War time period, so it is fun to hear what songs they're learning, along with what those songs have to do with history. I also love the 2 "trouble-maker" students in the book, Ricky and Lance. It especially amuses me because their behavior, reminds me of a similar behaving student I have this year, also named Ricky. The things these 2 boys did are so like what my more immature students do sometimes that it made the book realistic for me, and I'm sure would be for kids for the same reasons.

Now, the meaty part of the book is that Amanda's parents are fighting all the time, and her father moves out after a really tense Monopoly game. Amanda seems to be losing her best friend Beth to a girl that she does Irish dancing with. There is a black boy named James that Amanda looks to throughout all the Civil War and racism talk to see how he is reacting to everything, and what he thinks. James is also good in math, so Amanda ends up getting his help as well. Soon, Amanda learns what really happened with her parents, and learns that even the way she looked to James about the Civil War talk could be considered a little bit of racism in a way. While there isn't a "happy" ending for the parents, Amanda gets her friend and a couple new ones with James and Meghan, Beth's Irish dancing friend. So it is one I hope makes the list. I enjoyed it even just for Amanda's diary entries.

I'm now reading the Sherlock Holmes Files: The 100-year-old Secret by Tracy Barrett.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Review 35: Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick

The cover of this book is so not interesting to me. And the premise, and it didn't start out very good either. However, I had read a book by this author before that I did really enjoy, and as I got into this, it got better. The main character is Willie, his best friend moved a while back, he's horrible at baseball, but he loves baseball, and his mother is WAY overprotective. While walking home from a baseball game that he loses for his team, he cuts through the woods, which he isn't supposed to. He sees a McDonald's bag laying in a clearing and picks it up. When he does, out comes a giant blue chimp. Turns out the blue chimp is kinda like a genie, but not. So we get the normal story of be careful what you wish for. But a humorous one. In the end, I really got to where the blue chimp, Dodger, was making me laugh. So it was entertaining. And at the end, it kind of leaves you hanging, not knowing how the big last baseball game of the year actually turns out. But they also give an excerpt from a sequel to the book, and I like when the books on these lists do have sequels. At least that's what I've decided.

I think a really good book, that gets kids to read it, and then to go on to it's sequels, only leads to those same kids, who may not have read much before, really getting into reading. Soon they're in the library asking for more books like what they just finished, sometimes while they're waiting for the next book in the series that got them started to come out. In fact, I've seen this over and over in my classes the last few years. It's so great to see. While this isn't personally my cup of tea, I can see it fitting in the same slot as the book I didn't really care for last year that still made it to the list, The Big One-O by Dean Pitchford.

Got to this blog a bit late, almost done with the next book: The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish by Claudia Mills, which I'm really enjoying.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Review 34: The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley

This was a pretty good book. Of course it's about a school that is very prestigious, and all the students are nice, smart, and very hardworking. Franny's younger sister Zoe, is actually the one the school wants, she's recruited by a famous politician, the first female secretary of state supposedly, in fact. But Zoe won't go without her older sister Franny and her twin brother J.D. Franny and J.D. must go for a weekend of tests to see if they qualify. When they don't, Zoe says she still won't go without them, so Martha Evergood, the secretary of state, pulls some strings to get them all in. At the testing, Franny meets Cal, a moody girl whose father travels a lot and is leaving her there for his job, Brooklyn, a cute boy who writes poetry, and Prescott, an annoying, know it all boy. She is happy to see they are all there when she goes for orientation. Franny wonders if she'll ever fit into a school where all the students there look so perfect, and the "cottages" which is what they call dorms, are all kept so neat, and everyone is talented in some way, be it art, writing, science, etc. But soon they are meeting with counselors who make suggestions about their look, and things seem to calm down, and just work. Zoe and Franny and their brother J.D. are all in different dorms. J.D. is in the "oddball" dorm, and doesn't seem to change as much as Zoe and Franny do. And when they go home for Thanksgiving, and the meeting with Franny's best friend from before goes kind of weird, things start to unravel. But, there's always the famous Allbright Academy brownies to make them feel better.

Good book, I rated it a 5 on the 5 point scale.

I went through the books I had left and rearranged what order I'd read them in by the due date to the library, because a bunch are due back on October 19th, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to renew them this time. So the next book is by an author I've read before, Jordan Sonnenblick, but its premise and cover do not look good at all. And so far, I've read about 2 chapters, and I'm still like ehhh.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Review 33: Hard Gold by Avi

This is in a series of children's books called I Witness. I looked on the Internet, and other than the book I read last year by Avi called Iron Thunder, I haven't seen what other books are part of this series, or if there are any other authors. But like Iron Thunder, this had lots of diagrams and maps showing scenes from those times. While Iron Thunder was during the Civil War, Hard Gold takes place during the gold rush as you might guess. The Pike's Peak gold rush in particular. The main character is named Early, his family is close to losing their farm due to mortgages being called in, and the fact that the railroad wants to run their track right through Early's family's farm. Early's uncle, who is actually only a few years older than him is named Jesse. He wants to go out west to get the money they need in the big gold rush, but Early's father says they can't go, they're needed to stay and help at the farm, and it costs money to go that they don't have. Well, one night, the bank is robbed, and the next day, Jesse is gone. Early decides to go out and look for Jesse without telling his parents. So, he sees a sign and signs up to help a family go. This family is a man who is a barber, his sickly wife, and his daughter Lizzy, who her father wants her to be more ladylike. Early and Lizzy hit it off, and we get to follow their trip through the Nebraska and Kansas territory to get to Pike's Peak. There are good times and sad times, as well as dangerous times as a Mr. Mawr is following along, trying to find Jesse and get the money from the bank robbery back as well.

I did like this story quite a bit. But I liked Iron Thunder really well as well, and it was not a finalist on the Mark Twain for this year, so who knows if my vote on this will go far either.

Next book I started last night is The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley, it is starting out pretty good.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review 32: Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor

This was a sweet, endearing book. The main characters lives all came together at a motel by chance. Aggie, an old lady who owns the motel, but is running out of money to pay for it, so puts it up for sell. Willow, a girl whose mother has just left her and her father, and her father decides to buy the motel to get a new start. Kirby, a young boy who is on his way to a special school for troubled boys with his mother, they get stranded when their car breaks down on the way to the school. And Loretta, a girl who receives a box full of trinkets from an "other" mother she never knew existed, visits the museum with her loving adopted parents as they visit places represented by charms on a bracelet out of the box. And of course, Ugly, Aggie's cat. They all work to be a family in a way, and it is really great to see them all fit together and kind of heal/help each other with what is needed at that moment in their lives. Great book.

Started last night was Hard Gold by Avi.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review 31: Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs

So as I mentioned at the end of my last blog, this one started out with a good hook, a meteorite crashed through the roof of the main character Brady Steele's house. I assumed, this was just a hook, didn't know it was actually going to turn what I thought would just be a boys biking extreme summer story, into a sci fi story. So, in other words, I ended up really enjoying this. Turns out the meteorite wasn't just from the asteroid belt, it actually came from Mars, and was carrying some hitchhikers, bacteria from Mars. Brady gets infected, and it causes him to be really strong. But there's a later, not so good effect that will come from this. And it will tie into Brady's long standing nightmare of being cut open for an autopsy while still alive.

I love how this talks about the history of the Crazy Horse monument as well as Mount Rushmore. I think it's so interesting that the boys are able to ride around on their bikes with no parents around for a long time. Even just go camping overnight to go fishing without actually getting permission from their dads. There's also a rivalry with neighbor boys, and their dog Attila. The dog also gets infected. Then there is his cousin Quinn's dad who needs a job, and that is affecting what happens with the boys as well. I enjoyed this book, and could see it on the list for next year.

Very early this morning I started the book Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review 30: Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis

The storyline of this book was just two girls and their mom, who go to visit their grandma after a cryptic call from their aunt and their father has just left to compete in an Elvis impersonator contest in Vegas. But really, it's just a good family story. But that isn't what I really enjoyed about the book. I loved how sarcastic the main character Elvira is. The relationship between her and her mother, who she calls Mel, reminds me a lot of my relationship with my own mother. Just the way they talked to each other made me giggle and think of years past as well as even how I joke with my mom today. The whole family is a group of characters, and I just really, really enjoyed reading about their story, even as kind of a minor, run of the mill story as it seemed to me.

While this isn't really about Elvis, just an Elvis impersonator, I wonder why there are two books I've read for these 2 lists that include Elvis. On Beale Street was the one from the Truman list.

Next book is Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs. I've never read any of his books, they mostly don't sound like my interests. The cover of this really doesn't make me want to pick it up either. But, the little blurb on the front says: "A meteorite blazes the way to extreme adventure" and the first few pages is where this happens as I started reading, so I'm hooked.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review 29: Don't Talk to Me About the War by David A. Adler

I'm not sure if it's because I read the Truman list before these, but I'm feeling that some of these are so low reading level. I realize that Mark Twain list is for grades 4-6, but wow. This was a good story idea, but so low reading level. I mean, I look at the winner's from the past couple years, The Lightning Thief, Sea of Monsters, which are really so much better and at a higher reading level than half of the books I've read on this list so far. I even feel the most of the books I read last year for Mark Twain were better than this.

Anyway, normally I would really like this book, it is on a time period that I always am intrigued to read about, World War 2. The main character is a 13 year old boy named Tommy. His mom is having health issues, shaking hands, having vision problems, etc. He's a big fan of baseball, and wished people would stop talking about a war that was in Europe. This book is taking place in 1940, leads up to Pearl Harbor at the end. He has a friend named Beth that he walks to school with every day, and he kind of likes her. She lost her mom to cancer. There is also a friend of theirs named Sarah, who is a Jewish girl who escaped from Germany, but her uncle disappeared and hasn't been heard from since. His friend Charles has an older brother who is graduating from high school and decided to join the Navy. As I suspected from the symptoms, it turns out Tommy's mom finds out she has Multiple Sclerosis after she finally agrees to go see a doctor and gets a not so good evaluation.

It's an okay story as I said, just really, really, low level reading in my opinion.

Tonight I started the next book, Love Me Tender by Audrey Couloumbis, it is okay so far as well, but has a quite humorous tone to it that is keeping me hooked.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review 28: Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty

Not a big fan of this book. It was okay, but not the best in my opinion. The main character Lily, has no mother, and her brother died in a carbon monoxide accident as well. Since her brother died, Lily has quit talking, making herself invisible basically. Soon a new girl named Tinny moves into town, Tinny is also motherless, but does talk, and is actually a thief. Tinny has a bad man looking for her, and this leads to danger. The only thing about this that I was interested in was the talk about how cicadas have 17 year life cycles in between each infestation. I was curious about this as I've seen them the last few years, so I went and did some Internet research. And while they are on 17 year cycles, there are different genetic broods that come out, so one group came out last summer, and won't be back for 17 years, and another is out this year.

Now reading Don't Talk to Me About the War by David Adler.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Book Review 27: The Missing Book 1: Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I think we have another great series along the line of the Shadow Children series by Haddix as well. The kids in this series are all adopted, there are 36 of them. The book starts out with a plane showing up at a gate at the airport with no one on it other than these 36 babies. We flash to 13 years later when 2 of the kids find each other by chance, or so they think. All the kids are moving to within certain areas all grouped around the same towns. The 2 boys who are our main characters are Jonah and Chip. Jonah's sister Katherine helps the boys with their sleuthing when they find out something is up with their whole adoption. Turns out these 36 kids are all from the past, rescued by time travelers from the future, trying to save children or people from horrible tragedies. Only, the rich have decided to adopt these babies, and they want famous babies, such as a king from the 15th century. It leaves off with these 3 and another one of the children, Alex, being sent through time back to the 15th century. They want to fix what is going on, and be able to come back to the home they've lived and grown up in for 13 years. And that is where the 2nd book will start off, back in the time period. I'm looking forward to reading it after I'm done with my Mark Twain list.

Next is Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review 26: The Seer of Shadows by Avi

So, I'm now officially immersed in the Mark Twain possible nominees for 2010-2011 as I've finished my first book.

The Seer of Shadows sounded like a really good book, it's about ghosts, and picking them up with photography. The book was okay, not as good as I was hoping, but still pretty good. The main character is Horace and he is an apprentice to a photographer in New York in 1872. A rich woman comes asking Mr. Middleditch to take her portrait to put on her recently departed daughter's grave. Turns out according to a servant girl named Pegg that the death was under suspicious circumstances. Mr. Middleditch decides to take advantage of Mrs. Von Macht by making a double exposure photo with the daughter's likeness to simulate a ghost in the picture. Well, Horace soon finds funny things, the image he uses, isn't the one he sees in the picture. And now Horace is afraid the daughter, Eleanora, may actually be back as a ghost, looking for revenge. So it was good, but not great.

Next book I'm reading is Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I'm a big fan of this author, so even though I had put her book further down in the stack of Mark Twain books to read, I pulled it out instead of the Avi book that I had next. So far it's pretty good. The beginning was REALLY good. So I hope there is some pay off soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review 25: On Beale Street by Ronald Kidd

I wasn't too sure about this book, but once again I was pleasantly surprised. This is a fictional tale about the time when Elvis was first starting out. It is told by a fictional narrator named Johnny Ross. We get to see the racial tension of the time, as well as learn about how the music business worked. Johnny and him mom live in Memphis, in a cabin on the back of her boss, Mr. Chapman's, estate. The chauffer is Will Turner, a black man. His son Lamont Turner shows up at the very beginning of the book, and it is both Lamont, and Mr. Chapman's son Trey that turn Johnny onto the black music. There is a girl that Johnny likes, but turns out she's Trey's girlfriend. Johnny doesn't know his father, because his father left when he was a child. Johnny begins visiting Beale Street, where he meets Elvis, and soon gets a job working for Sun Records. So we get to see the rise of Elvis in a way. And soon we find out who Johnny's father really is, in a weird situation with the "big house" and all the people involved.

I like all the historical issues this book brings up. I like that they mention Brown vs. the Board of Education, and talk about how record companies would pay black artist for recording the records, but then not give them the royalties later on. I think this would be a great book for Communication Arts teachers to read with their students who were studying this time period in their Social Studies classes. I hope this one makes it to the actual list next year. I also know there was another book by Ronald Kidd called Monkey Town that I think was about the whole Scopes trial, which I think was the evolution debate. Now that I know I enjoy his writing, I'll be sure to find that book when I'm done with my reading.

Also, I am done with the Truman list! Yay! I'm going to mail my ballot this week, and today I've started the first book on the Mark Twain List, The Seer of Shadows by Avi. I'd never read any books by Avi until last year when I read for the Mark Twain list, and I really liked the book I read last year and was disappointed when it didn't make it to the nominees for kids to read this year. There are 2 of his books possible this year, and I'm going to read both of them first.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review 24: Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

I just have to say, wow, I was wrong about this. This was a really good book. So cute, and made me laugh out loud many, many times throughout the book.

Antsy, nickname for Anthony, has a friend named Gunnar who he finds out is dying from Pulmonary Monoxic Systemia. Antsy doesn't know what he can do to help, face it, what can you actually do in that situation? So he decides to "donate" a month of his life to Gunnar who says he only has 6 months to live. When he tells other people, they decide to do the same. Soon, they are building up lots of months to extend Gunnar's life, although people start putting stipulations on them like they have to be months from the end, not the middle, etc. It turns into a really big thing at the school, even to the point where they have a rally, and try to get it up to 50 full years donated. All the while Antsy and Gunnar are making a dust bowl out of Gunnar's back yard. Gunnar's sister Kjersten starts liking and dating Antsy. Antsy's family runs a restaurant which is really stressing his dad out. His friend Lexie and her grandpa are also a big part of Antsy's life. I wonder if they're actually what the book before this was about. Of course disaster strikes at the rally, and Antsy feels he must do something to counteract all this time given. Things aren't right with Gunnar and his family either, so all that plays into the situation.

I have to say one of my favorite quotes was about how they talk about dysfunctional families, but does anyone really come from a "functional" family that never fights or argues or disagrees? What an awesome thought. I will put this as a 5 on my ballot.

And last night before bed I began the final book on the Truman list, On Beale Street by Ronald Kidd. It also is shaping up to be a pretty good book.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review 23: The Big Field by Mike Lupica

Blech. This was a very hard read for me. Yes, the story was good I suppose. But all the baseball talk and terms was so annoying, or not annoying exactly, more time consuming to read and try to figure them all out. I mean, the last game of the book, yes, the championship game, was basically a play by play of all hits, up to bats, catches, every single play. Some of which I didn't understand, but I knew the main character and his team would have to be the winners, that's just how it usually comes out in kids' books. My thoughts are that this is so bogged down in baseball specifics and terminology that it won't be a popular hit among many readers. Yes, I know there are lots of kids out there who play sports. I also know that a lot of those kids aren't really big readers either, so you've cut down quite a bit on who will read the book. Now, that's just my opinion, I could be completely wrong. I just don't feel the story was strong enough outside of the baseball stuff that it will be a big hit on the Truman list.

The pattern I mentioned in my last blog about sports books is that the main characters are really good at whatever sport they play, but not THE best one on the team, they have a person who is their competition. The other thing is that their dads always seem to be former "really good athletes" who went on to do something other than sports because of an injury, or something else, and you can tell that the dad misses their sport and that affects their relationship with their athletic child. Now, I've really only read 2 sports books, so I guess I don't have that big of a scope to judge from, but I know there are a couple in the Mark Twain books I'll be reading soon, so I'll have to keep that in mind as I read those later and compare my thoughts when I blog about them.

Only 2 more on the Truman list to go!! Next is Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman. I've seen a couple books by Shusterman that looked interesting, this one was not one that jumped out. It is actually a sequel, and I'm assuming I'll be able to read it without reading the first one? I'll be sure to post my opinion on whether I'm missing something by reading this way when I blog in a couple days about it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review 22: The Rule of Won by Stefan Petrucha

Wow, I have to say I REALLY liked this book. It's basically kind of a spoof on the book "The Secret". Where it says if you want something bad enough, and you picture yourself with it, and write about wanting it, etc, that you'll get it. I personally know this is a load of crap as I've been trying to get a library job for about 5 years now, and I've pictured myself over and over and over in a library and I'm still stuck in a classroom teaching science, as well as all the daydreaming I do about David Cook, and yet I'll never really end up with him.

It starts that a boy named Ethan actually has a sister who can make things happen by drawing pictures. No one knows this, but they all buy in when things that they agree to wish for together start happening, the funding for a new school gym, the basketball team wins a game. Caleb is the main character though actually, and he is a slacker. Doesn't want to have to work hard for anything. His ex-girlfriend, Vicky, is running for Student Council president, and convinces him to join giving him the impression it'll help him get back with her. Soon, things happen to cause their wishes to come true that don't seem right. One girl wants to pass her algebra test, so they wish for everyone to pass it, and a teacher has a car accident. Other bad things happen like this. And it turns out, that someone may be causing these things to happen, only it might not be Ethan's little sister.

It reminds me a bit of the book The Wave, in how all the students get so sucked into it that they'll be violent to those who don't agree or participate. It even gets teachers and the already lousy principal involved. The girl who wished to pass the test, tries to kill herself because of the teacher getting in an accident.

This was a great book, and I will recommend it to many students.

My next book is another sports book, Big Field by Mike Lupica. And after the last sports book I read, Boost, I'm seeing a bit of a pattern in sports books. Ones I probably haven't seen before because I normally don't choose to read them. I'll talk more about that pattern in my blog about that book when I finish it.

I'm almost done with Truman list, only 3 more to go, then I'll be on to Mark Twain.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review 21: Boost by Kathy Mackel

Boost is about a 13 year old girl named Savvy who is REALLY tall and REALLY good at basketball. She's just moved to live with her aunt because her father has lost his job and her aunt needs some help. She decides to try out for league basketball, different than school basketball. A person she meets convinces her to leave the middle school age tryouts and go to the high school tryouts. They make it, but Savvy starts out on the bench, because while she's good, she needs some work. The coach gives her drills and all that to help her do better. They call it her "boost" list. The cover shows pills, so you assume he gives her those, but it's not, it's just drills and ways to improve her game. Her sister is older, and a cheerleader. A cheerleader who has gained weight over the summer and must lose it in order to stay on the new school's squad. At a big stakes game, pills are found, and they lead to Savvy's locker. Savvy doesn't know where they came from, but many people don't believe her, and she decides to do a drug test to prove her innocence, which it does.

This is an okay book. It started out slow, got good in the middle, but then I was bored at the end again. So not sure if kids would like it. But they might!

The next book I'm reading is the Rule of Won by Stefan Petrucha, I'm almost done with it as well. It is pretty good, I'll have lots to say when I write my review of it, probably tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Book Review 20: The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin

So, I am not really into the whole "Templars" and Holy Grail kind of story. But it was interesting enough. I could see how kids might get into it. I do have a complaint that several of the books I've read leave off. Yeah, I understand it is good to have sequels and keep kids reading, but this one ended right in the middle of major action!! Very frustrating for me. So, not sure this was a favorite. The main character is Tristan, who is an orphan left with monks and a mysterious note when he was a baby. So we get the idea he is someone special. The Templars stop by the monastery he is living at, and he draws the attention of Sir Thomas who wants Tristan to become his squire and train as a Templar. Unfortunately Sir Hugh also notices Tristan, and Sir Hugh is basically a bully, but maybe more as we find out further on. They go to the Holy Land under King Richard the Lion Heart. When the town they are in gets surrounded by Saracen, Sir Thomas gives Tristan the Holy Grail and tells him to make for safer land. On Tristan's way out, he runs into Robard who is a former member of the king's guard, and they are attacked by a band of assassins. They knock one out as the others run away. Tristan feels they must help this person, who turns out to be a girl, Maryam. She is grateful that they've helped her, so she helps them find their way. The book ends on a ship as they try to get to England, in the middle of the storm, when Tristan falls off the boat and begins to sink. Yeah, I know right, what a major cliffhanger.

My next book I started tonight, is called Boost by Kathy Mackel, it's a sports book, female basketball player I think. Not starting off well, I'm kind of bored so far.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review 19: Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen

After Gone I needed a "realistic" fiction type of book, plus, this book I couldn't renew, it had a hold on it, along with some others on my lists that I hadn't read yet. But since I knew this was next, I decided to go ahead and read it, and maybe I can return it before school tomorrow and not have a fine? We'll see.

Anyway, Shifty, or Solomon, prefers to be called Shifty or Soli. He's a foster child, or as his foster mom puts it, a child in a foster home. Marge is his foster mom, and she is also taking care of a little girl named Sissy and a crack baby named Thaddeus, or as they call him, Chance. Shifty is only 15, yet driving. And his driving tends to get him in trouble, parking in handicap spots, flat tires, almost getting towed. There are lots of issues with his family, as you would imagine in this type of situation. Overall this was a good book, and I think there are kids who will relate to this. However I wonder if they like to read this kind of book, or if it would be too hard for them. Not sure what I'll rate this. It was good, but kind of hard and sad to read. I basically read it in one day, and my next book is "The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail" by Michael P. Spradlin.

I also have a new "tentative" goal. I am now on book 20. I'm hoping to finish the Truman books before October if possible. Let's see, 6 more books, 8 more days this month? Well, maybe in the next two weeks I can do it, if not by October 1st. I'd love to get them as close to being done before November as possible, because then maybe I can do NanoWrimo again this year. I have an idea both for a new novel, as well as maybe going back and working on my first one I started, Digging Up Love, and maybe finally finishing that one.

Book Review 18: Gone by Michael Grant

This was a really long book, took me a few days to finish all over 500 pages. The book starts out with Sam sitting in class, and his teacher just all of a sudden disappearing. Just gone. Turns out all adults and teens over 14 have disappeared. The kids are left. Sam also has a secret, he's discovered he has a power. Some kind of flashing light/flame that can create a light or take off someone's hand. Turns out there are others with powers, and some of them are up at the Coates Academy, a private school for troubled rich kids, where Sam's mother works. Turns out that it is possible that Sam's twin brother may also be at that academy. Supposedly their mom gave him up, but kept Sam. Anyway, it's a pretty good story, there's some darkness behind all this, and not only are their kids with powers, the animals seem to have evolved in strange ways as well. Flying snakes, talking coyotes. And when kids turn 15 now, they also "poof". They find a wall all around the town that burns when they touch it. Sam's friend Astrid's younger brother Pete is autistic and may have something to do with the whole mess. There's a big confrontation between Sam and his "brother" at the end, but there isn't a set solution, and it is left for at least a sequel, which we have at the store and I'll have to read after I get done with all my book lists.

The next book I started yesterday was called Shifty, by Lynn E. Hazen, and it will be my next review.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review 17: The White Gates by Bonnie Ramthun

From the cover I first thought it was a skateboard, but turns out it was a snowboard. Tor is the main character, and the book begins with his mother waking him up late at night because she is the town doctor and she has an emergency to go take care of and doesn't want to leave him alone. It's Tor's first night in Colorado. The emergency is a local snowboard team member. Tor being a new kid in town gets picked on. Supposedly the town is also "cursed" and all doctors who come are never going to stay.

One thing I didn't like is that it alluded a lot to Tor's life with his father, but takes a long time to tell us why he's with his mom now instead of his dad. I almost wondered if something bad had happened to his dad and stepmom from the way it kind of sounded. But no, just his dad having twins cut into his life, and now with his mom he's getting attention. He makes friends, a Ute girl and a boy who is the son of a famous snowboarder, both kind of outcasts/loner, but everyone seems to like them. The girl is the great, great, great grandaughter of the woman who cursed the town. Tor learns to snowboard and gets picked on all throughout the book, and of course solves the mystery of the boy at the beginning's strange death before his mom gets blamed for it, and also takes care of the curse.

It wasn't too bad actually.

I'm now onto Gone by Michael Grant, which is a book I'd actually been interested in for awhile. And it has started with a bang, or you might say a poof.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review 16: Jack: Secret Histories by F. Paul Wilson

So, I've always thought about reading the Repairman Jack novels by F. Paul Wilson, but never got around to it. I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be about his main character growing up. Which means to be accurate to the adult novels that it takes place in the 1980's. While I enjoyed the references to the time period since I am a child of the 80's, I somewhat wonder if kids today will get the references, or even care. At least, that was my first thought. But as I got to thinking about it, at this point, isn't it like me reading about the 60's or even 50's during the 80's? Kids may enjoy it. There is one part where the main characters, Jack and Weezy, are talking about how they wish there was a two-way tv, where you could send questions to all the world's libraries to get answers. Hmm, sounds strangely like the Internet, doesn't it? I wonder if kids would pick up on that, or if it would go over their heads? Basically Jack, Weezy, and Weezy's brother Eddie are out in the woods and they find a mound, like an old Indian burial mound. Weezy is really into conspiracy theories, or as she calls it, the secret histories of the Earth. So she is digging around, and next thing you know they find a mysterious box and a dead body. They tell the cops about the body, but keep the box for themselves to study. Jack is the only one to be able to open it, and inside is a pyramid. There is Sumerian or some other ancient language inscribed on the box and pyramid.

Soon, there are more people dying, of strange ways, heart attacks out of nowhere. And in the town there is a secret Lodge that the men of the town belong to, and it is men from here that are dying. They try to get the pyramid and box dated by experts at a college, and both end up disappearing. One night there are helicopters that show up at the mound site, and when the 3 ride out to see, they are not sure if the guys there are really state patrol cops like the uniforms they are wearing.

There is some side story about a friend of Jack's that he is building a computer with, who is drinking. Not sure if this is necessary, but it does play into the solution of this particular mystery. I can tell this has left off for another one, and they even tell about it at the end of this one. Good story, just not sure what middle school kids will make of the 80's references.

Today I started The White Gates by Bonnie Ramthun.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Review 15: Little Audrey by Ruth White

This was a tiny, tiny book for this age of kids to read. Only 146 pages, so no wonder I finished it in the same day as when I started. Don't get me wrong, it was a really interesting story, but I just wonder if the kids in grades 7-9 that the Truman list is for will respond well to such a young story. The main character is Audrey, and she is actually the real older sister of the author. So it is a semi-autobiographical account of the author's life as a child in coal mine town. Audrey is 11 years old, and it is May, the end of the school year. Their father works in the coal mine, and in the past was also in the army until they sent him home saying he had 4 kids that needed him to be home. It actually sounds like the family was kind of better off, financially mostly, when he was in the army. Her father drank a lot, her mother was left home with the kids mostly. There were 3 other girls besides Audrey, that she called the "little Piggies". And there had been another baby that had died before it was a year old from spinal meningitis.

The fact that it is a true story will probably intrigue some readers, but it is told from a younger age than the kids who read this award nominee list, and often that can put this age off from reading something.

I also have to say that I read a book by the same author, Ruth White, for the Mark Twain list last year. It was called Way Down Deep, and it actually was one of my least favorites, yet made it to the list anyway. I liked this book better, but we'll see what happens.

The next book I'll start is called Jack: Secret Histories, and is by F. Paul Wilson, an author I've actually considered reading his adult novels in the past, but have yet to do. So we'll see how this one goes.

Book Review 14: Compound by S.A. Bodeen

I liked the premise of this book, it actually reminded me of the movie with Brendan Fraser called Blast from the Past, only the book wasn't humorous. The Yanakakis family is a rich and famous one. The father, Rex, was a computer genius. He was worried about nuclear war, so he build the compound. The compound was set up with a full school-size gymnasium, a livestock area, a hydroponics area, huge storage warehouse, doctor's office, beauty salon, each person in the family had their own bedroom, a fancy kitchen, you name it, it was there. They even had running water and electricity. But unfortunately when the bombs get dropped, Eli's twin brother and their grandmother get separated and don't make it to the compound before they have to close and lock the door. So it's just Dad, Mom, Eli's adopted sister Lexie, Eli, and his younger sister Teresa. Soon something goes wrong with the livestock and they have to kill and burn them instead of being able to eat them. Mom notices something is wrong with the wheat. Soon their father must figure out a way for them to survive when the stores they have will run out. Because it will take 15 years for the surface to be safe for them. And the way he figures out, they're called supplements, another way to get protein, if you can think of them that way.

But Eli finds a laptop in his twin brother's unused room that still has an internet icon, and when Eli clicks it, he finds the internet is still there. And Eli begins to wonder, is what his father told him the truth? And why would his father go to such extremes to try to save them, when it is really very unbelievable that his father could have even made the mistakes in the first place that lead to those kind of extremes. This was a really good book, I liked it a lot. The boy, Eli, was kind of sullen, not the "good twin" but that probably made it more interesting.

Today I started Little Audrey by Ruth White.

Book Review 13: My Father's Son by Terri Fields

This was a pretty good mystery with a kind of twist ending. Wasn't sure about it, but overall I liked it. Kevin Windor's parents are divorced. He spends weekends at his dad's house playing video games and just hanging out. Not that his dad doesn't have expectations for him as well. His dad is considered a computer genius, the video games they play are often ones that the company he works for has created and they get to play them before anyone else. Kevin's mom works hard every day to take care of Kevin, and prefers not to talk about his father. Kevin is a junior in high school, has a good friend named Jason, and a possible new girlfriend named Emily, his partner in Spanish class.

Things are going well until one day after school a breaking news report says the DB25 serial killer has been caught, and Kevin's father's face is flashed across the screen. At first Kevin can't believe it, he tries so hard to prove it's not true. He has issues with other people at school and in public because he looks just like his father. When his father doesn't try to get in touch, and even tells Kevin he doesn't want to see him, Kevin begins to wonder about his father. Then, DNA evidence links his father to the crime scene he was caught at. Kevin remembers that his dad had a laptop he'd hurriedly closed and not shown his son what was on it one time. He also loaned his father his jeep recently, when his father said his Lexus was in the shop. Now, was he using it to get to and from the crime scene with no evidence to connect him?

It seems like everything and everyone just makes Kevin so angry, and he starts lashing out so much that he is suspended from school and must take anger management classes.

I think this book was a good look at life in a crazy situation, and how a 17 year old boy handles it, or not. A quick, emotional at times, read. I think it would be a popular read for teens, but has kind of a scary subject.

The next book to read is Compound by S.A. Bodeen.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Review 12: The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler

Now, let me start off by saying that this was a good enough book. Whenever I picked it up, it was hard to put down, but it did have some issues, or at least it did for me.

First, the cover, the main character is supposed to be only 12 years old, but the girl on the cover looks older to me, so that was a bit misleading. But I guess to sell it to teens, the section it is in our bookstore at, you probably have to do that. The main character is Fern, she has a twin brother named Sam, and an older brother named Eddie. They call their mother the Commander. Well, Fern has some special powers. She talks to the dog, and hears him talk back. She can predict the weather, and hear people from far away, when they're talking about her anyway. And she comes to find out that she is a vampire, or as they call themselves now, otherworldlies.

This book brings in Greek mythology in this. It is in a way that makes me wonder if they read the Lightning Thief before writing this. Another similarity is how the vampires/otherworldlies want to come out to "normals" or humans and live side by side. I've now read about this in the Suck it Up by Brian Meehl I read earlier from this list, as well as it is a big part of the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse series. Not that it's a bad thing, just very familiar to me right now.

There's a big deal about good and bad vampires and not knowing for sure who is good, and the good guys aren't always out for keeping Fern and her family safe, and not knowing who to trust, but in the end Fern does good and everyone is safe. I also see that it is left open for a sequel, so who knows when we might see another in a series. Why not, it's what everyone else is doing.

Tonight I started My Father's Son by Terri Fields. Should be done with it by tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Review 11: Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser

So, I'm now over a fifth of the way through the books I've got to read by December 1st. yay!! This book was not too bad. The main character is Victoria, her parents are divorced, happened soon after 9/11. Her dad lives in New York city, so she has to take the train to go visit him. On her trip there she notices a teen mom with a little boy, the little boy has bruises on his arm. The mom seems to not really want the boy around, and leaves him in the bathroom when she gets off the train. Victoria feels for the boy, especially when her dad isn't there at the station to pick her up either. She decides to board the next train leaving and try to make sure that people start taking care of both her, and the little boy she calls Wills. She won't let him slip through the cracks, the way she feels she has sometimes. On her journey it turns out the boy gets reported as being kidnapped, and now she has to decide how to get him home safely to a person who will take care of him, and to not get herself in trouble, making sure people know she only had his best interests at heart.

An interesting story, not sure about it though compared to the others I've read so far. Tonight I started "The Otherworldlies" by Jennifer Anne Kogler.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review 10: Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

I must admit once again I was not expecting to be thrilled by my latest book on the list. And once again I was wrong. In fact, I really, really, really liked this one. I think it would make a good movie. In fact, at the end when the main character, Chris, is watching a slideshow of the pictures from his bike trip across America, I can just see that as the end of the movie. The book starts out telling about how Chris and his friend Win biked across the country. Not motorcycles, actual bikes. They decided their senior year on a whim to do it, and Chris was encouraged by his father to do it for sure, since his father had ended up not taking a drive across country when he was younger because life came up and interrupted him. Win is Chris's best friend, and he comes from a rich, but not close family. He is in therapy because of emotional issues. The story is told in between Chris's present as he starts college and we find out Win never made it back from the trip, and flashbacks to the summer trip. Near Seattle Win took off when Chris got a flat tire, and Chris was unable to find him again. While they remained friends throughout the trip, Win kept mooching off of Chris, although early in the trip, Chris found a ton of money stashed in Win's bike pack. Chris never brings it up. But it irritates him as he runs low on money and Win never offers to pay, when Chris knows he has the money.

Soon an FBI agent shows up to question Chris about Win's whereabouts, but Chris honestly has not talked to him since Win rode off and left him with the flat tire. Win's dad buys Chris's dad's company and threatens to have him fired, all trying to find where Win is. Soon Chris gets some postcards that give him some reminders of the trip, as well as possible hints. If Chris finds where Win is, he has to decide whether to tell his family, or whether to figure out why Win has disappeared and if he should let him stay. I highly recommend this one, it will get a five on my rating scale.

Next on the list is Jump the Cracks by Stacy DeKeyser.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Book Review 9: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Once again, a book I wasn't sure about. I remember someone I'm friends with on putting this on their to-read list, and at the time I thought it sounded good. But when I picked it up to read for this list, I wasn't sure. It was about a girl named Jenna Fox who wakes up from a coma and can't remember her life. It sounds like a realistic fiction book, but is actually a sci-fi book. It takes place in the future. Most natural plants have been wiped out by strains of genetically engineered plants. Many people have died from problems with vaccinations, and cloning, appendages and organs anyway, are now standard, up to a point. It is into this world that Jenna wakes up to parents that keep her home, won't really talk to her about what happened, and a grandmother who for some reason doesn't seem to like her. I really enjoyed the book after all. I wish it had gone more into some of the science type stuff, but the story itself was good. I know it was a teen/YA novel, but would love to see the same story pulled out a bit more into a longer novel. So much more I would have liked to know about what happened, what was really wrong with her classmate Dane? And more.

Onto book 10 from the lists, which means I'm a fifth of the way done. I started it today, it is is Shift by Jennifer Bradbury.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review 8: Hershey Herself by Cecilia Galante

I tend to prefer more fantasy or sci fi books. So I wasn't really looking forward to a more "realistic" book. But as I think back now, many of my favorite books as a kid were realistic books: Harriet the Spy, A Summer to Die, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. So I thought to read Hershey Herself more as if I was a kid. It actually is a pretty good book. Hershey's mom lives with her boyfriend, Slade. Slade is verbally abusive, and at one time threw a glass that shattered and shards of glass went into one of Hershey's eyes and messed it up. Her mom left, but shortly after they left, she found out she was pregnant, so she went back to him. There's no more physical stuff until a couple weeks after Hershey has enacted a scheme her best friend Phoebe helped her come up with to get rid of Slade. Her mother decides now they have to move out, and they go to a women's shelter. Hershey, her mother, and her little sister Ella must learn to live in this shelter. Hershey meets a mysterious woman named Lupe who teaches her to play the piano. She has issues with her friend, and a bully at school. I know there are probably many kids who might read this book who are in this same type of situation. So I think this would be a good book for them to read. So it turned out to be much better than I first thought.

I've started the next book already tonight, it is The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. I've actually wanted to read it for awhile since I saw it read by someone else on

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Book Review 7: Voss: How I Come to America and am Hero, Mostly by David Ives

This book was one I actually am not a huge fan of. The story was only a little okay. It was told with bad spelling, to make you "hear" the main characters Slobovian accent. Voss came to America smuggled in with Cheese Puffs. He gets there, looks for a job, which first he finds, then he gets fired, then his dad gets kidnapped and he has to save him, but it turns out it's not just his dad he has to save, and so on. A few funny parts, but one of the misspellings is the b-word, and I just feel like it is kind of a stereotyping book, and don't know that I would recommend it to kids. Just my opinion of course, but it's getting a pretty low rating on my scoring sheet for the Truman books. I actually finished it before bed last night, but no time or should I say too tired to come down and type up a blog. Today I started the next book called Hershey Herself by Cecelia Galante.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review 6: The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

I'm not quite sure about this one. It was an interesting read at least. I tend to enjoy books that are set in the "near" future supposedly and have political or social commentary. Reminds me of the Giver. In this, I take it to mean that Global Warming has occurred and all the polar ice caps have melted and the Earth has changed. The new leader is "Earth Mother" and the Corporation. They are putting shields over all the Earth so that they can control the weather. The main character starts out kind of young, her name is Honor. In this new world, all babies are named a certain letter for the year they are born. Honor's year is of course H. For some reason her family has moved to this island, that is partially under this shield. The sky is controlled, they only see certain stars and the sky's color is projected by the Corporation. They don't have weather really, although twice in the book there are big storms. Honor's parents aren't quite part of the group. First off, Honor's mother is pregnant, and families in this time don't have more than one kid, or if they do, that other child is adopted by couples who can't have kids. Because she is pregnant she can't get a job. She keeps the baby and the year he is born in makes his name start with a Q, they name him Quintillian. The school Honor, and eventually Quintillian go to is very strict. The books have things cut out, and only certain books are allowed. The pledge of allegiance as we know it has been changed, as well as the students only learn certain things, and happy songs, etc.

The "resistance" as you may call it, is led by the Forecaster. We do get a glimpse at who this is at the very end. But people who resist are "taken". Parents are taken from their children, making them orphans. These orphans have no idea where their parents have gone, but they now must live at the school with other orphans. This happens to Honor's friend Helix when his parents are taken.

I'm not sure as I said, it was an okay book, but since I don't think Global Warming is all that, I have trouble telling what this book is trying to say exactly. But I think kids would enjoy it, and I like that it would get them thinking about issues.

Today I started the next book called Voss: How I come to America and am hero, mostly by David Ives. Again, not sure if I'm going to like this one very much, I think it's kind of weird. I was worried I would get backed up, but starting this book today I am back on track.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review 5: Suck it Up by Brian Meehl

I knew this was about vampires, and while I'm really into that since Buffy, Twilight, and True Blood now, I'm very skeptical of all the other vampire books there are. I especially am not a big fan of all the "special schools" for vampires. I liked how Buffy and Twilight and True Blood all have vampires out with normal, the first two keeping vampires in secret. Suck it Up is kind of similar to True Blood, in that most of the vampires are called "Leagers". They don't drink human blood, only animal blood, and they want to come out and live among "Lifers" or humans. The main character, Morning, was an orphan until a vampire killed his foster parents and turned him. He was found shortly after and taken to the school where he learned to be a Leager. He's never drunk human blood, not even animal blood, until this story, he'd only had a soy substitute. As his class graduates, one of the teachers, Mr. Birnam asks him to do a special favor, and be "the" first vampire to come out to the public. Birnam hires a PR woman, Penny, and Morning goes and lives with her and her daughter Portia. We learn about Morning's past, and some people in it who have more to do with the whole story than we knew at first. Morning's coming out is of course fraught with mistakes and craziness, and turns out there is another group of vampires, called loners, who don't want to change their ways of drinking human blood. And one of them, is really against Morning doing this, and so decides he will kill, him. But due to some of the original vampire laws, he is unable to do it himself, and so must hire someone else.

Good book, not as good as the others I've read, but still a good read. I can see that they left it open for a sequel, but I think it ended just fine. Of course there is a bit of flirtation between Portia and Morning, the problem being that Morning is stuck as a gawky 16 year old forever, and she is human.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Book Review 4: The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The Boy Who Dared is actually a novel based on a true story of a German boy. He actually belonged to the Hitler Youth. He wasn't really a Nazi, he didn't agree with most of what they did, especially once he started seeing friends and neighbors being mistreated for seemingly no reason. The story begins with the main character named Helmuth Hubener in prison. He is waiting for them to come to his door and say it is time for him to go, which means he is being executed. As he waits in this prison he flashes back to when he was younger, the end of World War I. He wants to be a soldier because of what has happened. He is very loyal to his country, something that is supposedly one of the Mormon's 13 Articles of Faith. Helmuth and his family are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. An interesting thing I learned in this book, and I assume it is true, I'll have to go look it up, but supposedly the 11th article says that all people have the right to worship how, where, and what they want. So it would seem Mormons are supposedly more tolerant of other religions? At least that was how Helmuth seemed to be raised. Not sure, they're also supposed to support their country, yet the Mormons I know won't pledge allegiance to the flag, and don't celebrate holidays. Wondering where that came from? If what is told about this religion in this book is true.

But I like how the book touches on the fact that he joins the Hitler Youth because you're expected to. He also wonders about why he and others keep quiet instead of doing things for the Jews. And in the end, he tries to take actions on what he believes, and he faces the consequences bravely, doing his best to keep his friends from suffering what he eventually suffers, death.

This will be another high recommendation for me.

My next book that I started this morning and I am more than halfway through is Suck it Up by Brian Meehl. I hope to have a review on that tomorrow keeping myself on track, almost a day ahead. I will also check out another book at work tonight to start after Suck it Up.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review 3: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is the 2nd book I've read by Laurie Halse Anderson, the first being Speak, a REALLY good book. This also turned into being a pretty good book. It is about a slave girl named Isabel and her younger sister Ruth. It is taking place during the time of the American Revolution. Which actually is a unique time for a children's book to be written about slaves. Normally you tend to read about the civil war time period. Isabel and Ruth's masters die. They had promised to set them free, but the lawyer who supposedly has these papers is out of town at the time, and so they get sold by a relative. The people who buy them are Tories or Loyalists to Britain. The wife is horribly mean to the two girls. Isabel is trying the whole time to find a way to get herself and Ruth their promised freedom, but is blocked at every door. When Madam gets upset with Isabel, shortly after she finds out that Ruth has fits, she drugs Isabel, and tells her when she's woke up the next day that Ruth has been sold. Isabel gets so upset that she runs off. She is caught, and branded. At this point, I was in tears. Isabel has been unsure throughout the whole book which side is the right one. The Loyalists seem to be better for slaves, yet don't ever come through for her. The rebels promise things in exchange for her help in spying on her master, but then they don't seem to be able to make good on what they have kind of promised. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, we haven't seen all the way through the Revolution, and so there is supposed to be a sequel.

The only thing I wasn't thrilled about was the chapters having the dates on them. Some chapters were part of a day, the next chapter was still the same day, and then other chapters were several days. That was an annoying way to bother with labelling the chapter. At least in my opinion. But I will highly recommend this to kids, as well as teachers looking for a good book about the American Revolution with a new, unusual viewpoint.

I started my 4th book today, The Boy Who Dared. About a German boy during the time of Hitler. I didn't remember by the title, but it is also a book I had really wanted to read when I saw it at the bookstore. I hope to have it finished tonight, and then I'll really be on track.